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BRD Medical College’s rehab department struggles minus doctors, salaries

The medical college’s physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) department that helps Japanese Encephalitis survivors, who invariably end up with disabilities, has no doctors.

lucknow Updated: Aug 22, 2017 15:10 IST
Pankaj Jaiswal & Abdul Jadid
Pankaj Jaiswal & Abdul Jadid
Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur
BRD Medical College,PMR,Physical medicine and rehabilitation
(Pankaj Jaiswal/HT Photo)

The BRD Medical College that has been in the national and even international spotlight over 87 child deaths since August 9 has another skeleton in its cupboard.

The medical college’s physical medicine and rehabilitation (PMR) department that helps Japanese Encephalitis survivors, who invariably end up with disabilities, has no doctors.

All the three doctors associated with the department have left it one after the other over non-payment of salaries.

The department is being run by 11 personnel, none of them doctors. They are four expert therapists, three technical hands, and four class four attendants. Even these 11 personnel have not been paid their salaries for the last 28 months.

“This, despite the fact that the centre has proved its utility each passing year. The number of patients increases by a thousand each year,” said a staffer.

The PMR department records show that the department attended 7,525 cases in 2016-17 and 5,750 cases in 2015-16. This year, the figure has already crossed the 4,000-mark even as the peak season has set in for Japanese Encephalitis and the deadlier Acute Encephalitis Syndrome.

In the first year after its inception in 2010, the department attended to 1,482 children.

One of the four therapists at the PMR department said: “The encephalitis ward has lean phases too when the JE-AES peak season wanes. But, we do not have any lean period because JE and AES survivors need our therapy for years.”

The central government had set up the PMR department in 2010 under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government.

Under the MoU (which HT has a copy of), the centre was to set up the department and run it for five years.

After that, the state government would take over the department and regularise the services of all the contractual employees.

But the state government did not take over the department at the end of the five-year term. And the central government’s term was over. As of now, the PMR is no one’s baby.

“Towards the end of the central government’s term, it paid us outstanding (salaries) of 25 months in March 2015. By this time, the three doctors had already left. Now, we have outstanding (salaries) of 28 months,” said a staffer who did not wish to be named.

From April 2015 to July 2017, the total salary dues of the 11 staffers amounted to Rs 36,56, 800.

The scenario is a grim reminder of the non-payment of dues to the oxygen suppliers, alleged to be reason for 33 child deaths in 48 hours on August 10 and 11.

“It was because of the intervention of Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath in 2015 that the central government paid us 25 months’ salary. But now when he is the chief minister, we are troubled over our salaries. We have to run from pillar to post, from the medical college principal to the medical education department in Lucknow, the secretariat there, and even the Janata Darbar of the chief minister. We could not meet the CM at the darbar, but the officers there took our memorandum,” said another staffer.

He added, “Doctors get jobs easily, so all the three of our doctors left. But we are in a difficult situation.”

On August 8, Dr Anita Bhatnagar Jain, additional chief secretary (medical education department) visited the BRD Medical College and a delegation of the PMR department met her. A delegation member claimed that she assured that the problems of the department will be looked into.

Hindustan Times tried speaking to Jain, but she could not be contacted.

Ramesh Srivastava, a motorcycle workshop owner in Gorakhpur, has no idea about the problems of the department, but he visits the place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the treatment and rehabilitation of his three-year-old son Shivansh Srivastava. Shivansh was diagnosed with JE in February 2015 and the BRD Medical College’s encephalitis ward saved him.

“He was treated well at the hospital. Post recovery, the entire left side of the body was paralysed. He was only one year old then. But, this PMR department has turned my son near normal now. See (pointing towards the kid), he can stand and even walk now. His speech has improved too,” Srivastava said.

Neurological disabilities in JE and AES survivors often affect limb movements, mental ability, hearing and speech.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 14:37 IST